“Well, we have a lot of corn”

These were the intelligent and elegant words I used to describe the state of Ohio last night. Thanks to a family friend born in Australia, I was connected with a lovely Australian family that graciously invited me to their house for dinner. 

Ginta and her husband have 3 kids. They have 18-year old twins. The boy, Ziggy, just returned home after a few months backpacking through Europe. The girl, Vida, just started at Duke University in the States. The oldest daughter who’s my age, Vilija, lives at home and works in North Sydney. Ginta’s husband works full-time as a lawyer. Ginta spends her days running A LOT and taking care of their beloved border collie, Felix. 

After meeting Ginta one afternoon for lunch she extended the invitation to join her and her family for dinner. I gladly accepted! When I arrived at her home, she showed me where I’d be staying (FYI, she lives just minutes from my work so I spent the night!). I stayed downstairs in her daughter’s room.

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Her home was absolutely beautiful and reminded me of the home I stayed at in Lyon, France. Bedrooms and laundry on the basement floor, living room and kitchen on the main floor and more bedrooms upstairs. The interior was very sleek and modern with very few decorations.

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One of the first members of the family I met was their 5-year-old Border Collie, Felix. They are a bit obsessed with their dog, to say the least. He got fed before we did and their Wifi network is even named after him! Ginta had to rush me to work early so she could exercise Felix! He’s the king of the house and he’s truly treated like royalty!

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After I got settled in my room, I headed upstairs to Australian cheese and crackers for an appetizer. I also had a glass of white Australian wine! I told them about my adventures in Australia so far as we waited for the rest of the food to cook.

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We were all pretty hungry and ready to eat by the time all the food was done! Ginta had had her last training session before her next marathon, The Chicago Marathon! She leaves this Thursday and when she’s done she’ll have complained 10 marathons at age 57! She’s hoping to complete, I mean she WILL complete the world tour of marathons. Truly an inspiration and a bit crazy, I might add! Anyways, my hunger was soon relieved after this…

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That’s a salad with avocado and cucumber, “Falling” Lamb with 5 Indian spices, pasta salad with broccolini, spinach, butternut squash and cheese cubes, roasted eggplant and zucchini and roasted potatoes that I couldn’t fit on my plate! Everything was DELICIOUS and a much needed change from my usual spaghetti in a can!

At dinner, we talked about everything from cool places I should try to go to in Sydney (like a great gelato place!) and President Obama to my family and the different things that make Ohio…Ohio. As mentioned earlier, my first answer was “we have a lot of corn” but I was also able to tell them about Buckeyes, perch and walleye fish, cattle, our flat farmlands and our state slogan. BUT, I had to look up the state flower because Ginta was curious and she stumped me on that one!

After dinner I made the whole family take a family photo with me. We experimented with the self-timer and like any family photo it came out a bit…dysfunctional. But, I wouldn’t want it any other way!

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After just one night with this family, I felt at home even though I’m a 24-hr plane ride from my actual home in Toledo, Ohio. I laughed some, learned some and most of all, experienced what it’s like to be a part of a true and AWESOME Aussie family! 

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This was out on the back balcony where I enjoyed my morning cereal before work. I could get used to that! I’m hoping to reconnect with the Viliunas family when we Ginta returns from Chicago. Until then, I can mark “Have dinner with an Aussie family” off my Australia bucket list!

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